The Daily Dose Asia: U.S. intransigence gifts leadership-role to China in coronavirus fight

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The COVID-19 pandemic has provided the People’s Republic of China to assume the leadership role in the fight against the novel coronavirus. The initial outbreak of the new disease occurred in the country in November/December 2019. The timing was fortuitous in that it allowed China to gain valuable first-hand experience with the disease and allowed it to be the first nation to return to full strength while the world grappled with early stage outbreaks. As per South China Morning Post, “Chinese doctors, scientists and immunologists have shared their experience of fighting and containing the contagion in a series of video conferences with officials in Europe, Africa and other Asian countries. China also announced a US$20 million donation to the WHO, sent medical specialists to Iran, Iraq and Italy, and shipped protective garments and equipment to neighbours in Pakistan, Laos and the Philippines. It also pledged to “do whatever it can” to provide medical assistance to Ethiopia, Chile, Cuba, Egypt, and Belarus among dozens of countries.” The Trump administration’s intransigence in the face of early knowledge of the COVID-19 outbreak has also played a role.

Japan continues to fight the novel coronavirus, successfully keeping a broader outbreak at bay. Their efforts have been all the more striking considering the density of many Japanese cities. However, there are constant reminders that the potential for deterioration remains a possibility. As per Japan Times, “The combined number of coronavirus patients in the neighboring prefectures of Osaka and Hyogo is expected to reach 3,374, including 227 in serious condition, between March 28 and April 3, the health ministry warned. The estimate was included in a draft emergency package of measures that was proposed to the prefectures by the ministry.”

India’s Prime Minister implored the country’s citizens to remain at home while COVID-19 cases begin to show signs of increasing. As per the Times of India, “Fifty-seven cases were reported from the country on Friday – the most in one day – as the number of coronavirus cases rose to 283 in the country.”

Along with South Korea and Japan, Singapore has been the poster child for flattening the epidemic curve. To date, they have been able to avoid the spike in infections that overwhelms hospitals. This weekend, the city-state suffered its first two COVID-19 fatalities. As per Asia One, “Two patients died from Covid-19 on Saturday morning (March 21) due to complications, the first deaths the Republic has seen. A 75-year-old Singaporean woman with a history of chronic heart disease and hypertension died at 7.52am… The second patient is a 64-year-old Indonesian national who was admitted to intensive care on March 13 after arriving in Singapore from Indonesia the same day.” It will be interesting to see whether Singapore can continue suppressing new infections.

Cases of COVID-19 appear to be increasing in the Philippines. According to CNN Philippines, “The number of people with coronavirus disease in the country has jumped to 307, after 77 more have tested positive, the Department of Health said Saturday. This is the biggest single-day increase of cases in the country since the outbreak began in January. DOH said five more people also recovered from the disease officially known as COVID-19.” The country’s death toll remains at 19. Last week, President Rodrigo Duterte placed the country on strict lock-down.

The mystery of canine SARS-CoV-2 infection lingers on despite public health officials downplaying the possibility and significance. As per Caixin Global, “A second dog in Hong Kong has tested positive for traces of the virus that causes Covid-19, even as six other quarantined animals have continued to test negative. The positive results from the second dog deepen a mystery about the new coronavirus that has frightened pet owners and baffled scientists trying to figure out how household pets can repeatedly test positive for the virus even though experts say there is no evidence they can transmit it to humans or fall ill themselves.” It has been suggested that even if domesticated animals were susceptible, they would not be able to transmit the virus to their owners.


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